Here's a quick tutorial on how to use fluoWrite, my vacuum fluorescent display (VFD) 7-segment display layer font from my Analog Digits packs! I'm using Affinity Publisher, but these steps should be mostly do-able in other layout apps and word processors.

Note: about rescaling graphics

If your app lets you set properties to “scale with object”, then do so!

In the Affinity Suite, you can set strokes to scale with the objects they're on in the stroke menu, and you can set effects to scale with the layers they're applied to in the bottom of the effects pop-up.

Doing this will save some headaches if you ever want to rescale your graphics, but keep the same look.

Step 0: The inspiration

I based fluoWrite on a single photo of a VCR player uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

Step 1: Set up the layers

Make a text-art layer, set the font to fluoWrite, type in your text, and duplicate the layer once. Open the Typography pop-up (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+T). Select the bottom layer and apply stylistic set 1 (ss01/“unlit”). At the end, it should look something like this:

Most word processors and layout apps will have some way to access these font features like stylistic sets (if the font has them). You can find more info in your app's documentation or in the user guide for fluoWrite!

Step 2: Flat colours

Give each layer a fitting colour. I've gone with a pale blue for the lit layer and dark grey with a slightly brighter grey outline (on the inside edge) for the unlit layer.

Final step: Glow

Apply a bright cyan, edge-aligned, inner glow and a bit of blur to the lit layer. The glow has a low radius—it's more like a fuzzy outline.

Extra options

And there's the finished look! That said, you can definitely go a bit more stylised or realistic than this. For instance, you could add a hexagonal grid into the unlit segments to match the real appearance even more:

Note: about layers-within-layers

You can easily style text in complex ways in the Affinity Suite by dragging another layer (e.g. shapes, a texture, an image) into the text layer in the Layers studio tab, like this:

This uses the shape of the text as a mask/stencil to block out anything outside the letters, like I did by dragging a hex-grid texture into the 'unlit' layer in the pic above.

You can actually do this with pretty much any two layers types you'd want to—text in text, images in shapes, whatever you want. You can probably do the same in other, similar apps, but not in word processors (which aren't geared for graphic design tasks like this).

Hope this helps! If this tutorial caught your eye, you can find fluoWrite in my Analog Digits font packs, along with other fonts for retro electronic displays.

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